The Mighty Warrior Within You–The Immune System

Posted by Amit Usa on June 30th, 2015 at 1:17 pm | No Comments

The world is full of pathogenic organisms that can potentially make humans seriously and gravely ill. Some of the worst bugs can even kill. Every day, as we go about our business, travel to work, touch poles in the subway, pay for purchases, pet our dogs or carry out our garbage, we acquire, breathe in, and swallow millions of microorganisms, many of which are pathogenic. But we don’t get sick every minute of every day. That’s because our body has multiple layers of protection against the invaders, starting with our skin and ending with the complex inner-workings of our immune system. Our skin is our primary defense mechanism against many ills. It is a very strong and efficient membrane that functions as a security barrier which separates our inner organs from the world. The skin makes special oils with antimicrobial properties—they kill unwanted microorganisms on the contact. But skin also is an ecosystem that hosts myriads of friendly bacteria and yeast that also help us fight off germs that shouldn’t be there. Other parts of the body, through which we interact with the environment, also have their defense strategies. Our noses, mouths, and lungs produce mucus that helps kill pathogens and traps foreign particles that try to sneak in. When foreign bodies end up in our mouth, our saliva, which contains antibacterial enzymes, helps extinguish them. When foreign organisms or particles make it into our lungs, phlegm—the thick mucus produced there—envelopes and contains them. The small hair-like structures of our lungs called cilia sweep the intruders up—and then we sneeze or cough then out. The stomach has powerful defenses of its own. The very strong acid that digests our food also gets rid of most pathogens we accidently ingest—preventing them from settling in and causing infections. Just as our skin is teeming with microorganisms, so is our digestive tract, which is full of beneficial bacteria that help us extract nutrients from our food and ward off germs. But generally our body keeps a healthy population of friendly bacteria everywhere – in the stomach, on the skin, and in the orifices. Even our tears have antibacterial enzymes that fight infectious bugs. But some pathogens still manage to break through the defenses and make us sick. That’s how we end with sore throats and colds. That’s why sometimes our scratched knees get infected. And when intestinal bacteria fail to kill the germs, we end up with stomach flus or diarrhea. When pathogens do slip in, the immune system joins the fight through many complex biological processes. Generally, the immune system’s defense mechanisms can be grouped into two categories. The first is the innate immune response, in which the immune system responds to an invader the same way no matter what that invader is—it just identifies it and removes it, without making a note about it for future reference. If this invader attacks again, the immune system will respond the same way. The second category is the adaptive immune response, in which the immune system will generate specific antibodies to kill off the intruder—and when the fight is over it will “make a record for future references.” The immune system will remember what the intruder was and what antibodies were needed to kill it. When the body is mounting the adaptive response to a pathogen for the first time, it usually takes time, but the future responses will be very quick and efficient. That principle is used in vaccinations: Our bodies are introduced to the weakened forms of pathogens in childhood, so while the immune response is being generated, we don’t succumb to the infection—but our bodies remember it for the future. So if we pick up these germs later in life, our immune system will kill them off quickly and easily. That’s all well and good, if one’s immune system is functioning well. But that’s not always the case. The immune system itself may have its own disorders. They fall into three categories: immunodeficiency, autoimmunity, and hypersensitivity. Immunodeficiency is a disorder in which the immune system can’t fight infections—either because it can’t recognize the invaders or can’t mount an efficient attack on them. Immunodeficiency can be genetic, something that a person is born with. It also can be acquired as a result of malnutrition or aging, or because of a specific virus that suppresses the immune system. HIV, which stands for human immunodeficiency virus, is exactly that type of a virus. It suppresses the immune system so it no longer can fight the pathogens. Specific medications like chemotherapy can also take tall on the immune system and cause immunodeficiency. So can certain types of cancer like leukemia or lymphoma. Autoimmunity is a disorder in which the immune system mistakes your normal healthy cells for foreign invaders—and attacks them. Depending on the type, an autoimmune disease can affect one or many different types of body tissues. While the immune system can’t liquidate all of the body’s own cells, it puts the body in a constant state of war with itself, causing chronic inflammation, pain and fatigue—like in the case of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and type I diabetes. The hypersensitivity problem can manifest itself in allergies. Normally, a body expels unwanted substances such as dust, pollen, hair or fur with no problem. But in case of hypersensitivity, the immune system overreacts, damaging its own tissues. When the body encounters an allergen, the immune system mounts too strong of a response, which can also lead to inflammation—sometimes so strong it may spread through the body. Allergies, whether seasonal, environmental, or food-related, are an example of such a hypersensitivity disorder. Whatever the condition, if your immune system is not working well, life becomes difficult. But it doesn’t have to be that way forever. Usually triggered by something that puts the body out of balance, immune system problems are reversible. As with any other conditions, holistic medicine approaches immune system malfunctions by restoring the body’s natural equilibrium through normalizing energy flow, nutritional needs, and emotional wellbeing. Through ancient practices and modern day knowledge, holistic medicine can efficiently alleviate immune system problems. .     A depressed immune system can only lead to more serious problems. Research has shown that this new therapy may help reverse your condition and renew your health. v

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